4 Ways to Use Screencasts in Your Classroom

Screencasts are nothing new for some of us, but in case you don’t already know let’s review what exactly they are. A screencast is a video recording of your computer screenquicktime-screencasts-1 that usually contains audio narration. They are extremely easy to create, and there are many ways they can enhance what we do as educators. Here are 4 broad uses I can see being helpful for teachers:

4 Ways to Use Screencasts

  1. Teachers can create video versions of direct instruction. This is one of the most common uses of screencasts and can be useful in a flipped lesson, or as a supplement to direct instruction in class. Students will be more easily able to catch up on class material if they are absent and will be able to review class material at home to better master content and prepare for assessments.  I’ve even made one to throw up on Moodle for a sub when I’m home with a sick child and can’t afford to skip a day of instruction.
  2. A teacher can demonstrate a process students will complete. This could be use of a new program students will be using, an introductory tour of your own course website so students can learn how to navigate its resources, or instructions for how to navigate an outside website students will be using heavily for a project. One great thing about a screencast (for both 1 and 2) is that students can easily re-watch and review parts of a video if they miss something or need to see it again.
  3. Teachers can provide students with feedback. While perhaps more time consuming, some assignments could benefit from video feedback in which a teacher records him or herself commenting on the student work. This could work quite well as a form of feedback on a student-built website, digital art project, or even a research paper. The video could be emailed or uploaded to Google Drive and easily shared with the student.
  4. Students can submit screencasts as assignments. Students could record themselves solving a math problem, explaining an art or design project, showing the sources they found most useful for a “narrated bibliography”, or even giving a presentation in Google slides when snow days have made it impossible to finish them in class (Don’t get your hopes up! It’s looking to be a warm December).
  • Other uses. Are there ways you’ve found screencasts particularly useful? Or do you have examples of times 1-4 have been of great help in your classes? If so, share them in the comments below!

How to make a quick & easy screencast using QuickTime Player:download

  1. Open QuickTime Player on your Mac. It doesn’t open a window like most applications, but if you see Quicktime Player on the upper left of your desktop (near the apple) you’re good to go.
  2. Click:  File –> New Screen Recording.
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions to either record part of your screen or your whole screen.
  4. Check out the video below for a more detailed walkthrough:

Screencasting Beyond the Basics:

Here are some ways you can up your screencasting game if you really want top notch quality.

  • Get your webcam and screen recording at the same time with OBS. It’s a free application (now available in self service) and I am more than happy to help you with the first time setup. Having video of your shining face along with your screen can be more engaging and fun for your students, and can give your videos a more personal feel and professional look.
  • Edit your videos in iMovie. If you’re like me you’ll want to rid your videos of the coughs, sneezes, whining three-year-olds running into the computer room, and knocking over coffee while trying to swat at a fly (all true stories – it was a dark day in portable 7). iMovie makes it easy to cut, reorganize, increase volume, add headings and titles, and all sorts of other things. Try it out and see your tech coach if you want a hand.
  • Try an external microphone. The Learning Commons has microphones you can check out that could help improve the audio quality of your videos.

Other Options

QuickTime Player and OBS are not the only options. If you’re curious, check out the Snagit Extension for Google Chrome. It has lots of great uses in addition to recording screencasts in your browser and automatically saving them to Google Drive! Screencast-o-matic is another popular choice among educators and has a free version as well as a feature-rich version for only $15/year.

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